Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2024


MARECO algorithm: how to drive a train using the least amount of energy

Trains are planned with margins compared to their fastest possible drive. Without them, they would not be able to catch up in case of a delay. A train departing 5 minutes late would arrive at least 5 minutes late. A driver accelerating or braking a bit slower than planned would inevitably be late. The entire transportation plan would fail.

Those margins/allowances consist of adding extra time to the total running time. This implies planning trains with a lower speed than the maximum they could physically drive.

There are many ways to lower the speed of a train along its trip, but one of them is particularely efficient in terms of energy savings. The algorithm MARECO, developped by SNCF, details an entire strategy for this purpose: how to plan a train that would intelligently drives slower in a way that consume the least amount of energy ?

In this talk we will go though the main ideas of the algorithm, then we will compare its efficiency to other margin distribution stratgies on a few relevant examples, and finally we will discuss the impact of this algorithm on train planning and operation.


Photo of Alex Rolland Alex Rolland